GD09

If you want to build the most powerful home theater PC (HTPC) on the planet, this is the system for you! This system may be sleek and compact, but it packs in plenty of impressive gear. It features a stylish design that will blend in perfectly with the rest of your AV gear, great for keeping other members of your household happy. But behind that unimposing facade lurks the power of a seriously tricked-out PC!

For October 2019, this system gets a top-to-bottom update to incorporate the latest gear, making it a better HTPC than ever before. We start with the awesome new AMD Ryzen 5 3600 six-core CPU, which features six next-gen Zen 2 cores and a total of 12 threads, which translates to fantastic processing power. It will easily beat last-gen 8 core CPUs, while using a whole lot less power. We also recommend a new X570-based motherboard that offers all the latest enhancements, including PCIe 4.0 and USB Type-C. On graphics duty, we go with the GeForce GTX 1660 6GB video card, which is a gaming powerhouse (should that be of interest to you), but is also a perfect pick to output to a 4K TV. It's also great for accelerating media encoding, should you be doing that on your HTPC. In terms of RAM, we recommend a full 32GB, which will provide plenty of breathing room for any high-end task, including video production, and thanks to those big price cuts we mentioned, high-speed DDR4 RAM fits in the budget.

On the storage side, we go with an ultra-fast 512GB PCIe-based solid-state drive, which will provide breathtaking operating system and application responsiveness. It's paired with a 2TB hard drive for media storage, plus a Blu-Ray burner for optical media access. Need more space? No problem - you can always add up to three high capacity hard drives for media storage. The PC is powered by a silent Gold-rated 550W power supply and runs in the stylish SilverStone GD09 case, the most compact ATX chassis on the market. Simply put, this is a dream high-end HTPC at an affordable price! By the way, this system has plenty of expansion potential, so be sure to check out the optional components we recommend at the end of this guide! With that said, if you know you won't be gaming on your system and don't need space for large expansion cards, you can save some money and room on your AV console with our $1,000 Ultra-Slim Mini-HTPC Build.

To have a look back at previous versions of this build, check out The Archive. And for extra help getting up to speed on what it's like working with AMD's Ryzen platform, definitely check out our hands-on Ryzen Assembly Guide.

The $1,250 High-End Home Theater PC - October 2019

    CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 5 3600

    For a high-end HTPC, you want extreme processing power, and there's no better chip to give you that than AMD's new Ryzen 5 3600. With six ultra-high-speed Zen 2 cores and twelve total threads that boost to 3.9GHz in multi-threaded tasks and even faster in lightly-threaded tasks, it can cut through the toughest of home theater tasks. All that and it's still incredibly efficient, pulling under 65W. Learn more about this awesome CPU in our full review!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU includes a great cooler, so good in fact that you simply do not need to upgrade. Learn exactly how quiet it is in our recent low-profile CPU cooler shootout!

    Motherboard:

    MSI X570-A PRO

    This board provides tons of functionality at a great price. It has eight USB ports (including a Type-C port), five PCIe expansion slots including a PCIe 4.0 slot, dual M.2 SSD slots, and six SATA ports.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the X570 chipset is the only full-featured chipset that has support for the Ryzen 5 3600 out of the box. Do not buy a B450 or X470 board and expect it to boot the 3600.

    Video Card:

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G

    HTPC enthusiasts looking for the holy grail of 4K output, nearly-silent operation, and serious gaming performance need look no further than the GTX 1660. It will run cool and quiet, while easily driving any gaming title to a 1080p resolution at maximum settings, while pushing older titles to 4K. Speaking of 4K, this card's HDMI 2.0b port will output 4:4:4/60Hz/4K video perfectly! And take note: this is one of the very few standard-height 1660 models available; most will not fit in this system!

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you know you'll never game on your HTPC, consider our $1,000 Ultra-Slim Mini-HTPC, which has all the same HTPC features as this build, but drops support for gaming-grade video cards. Note that either way, you need a video card, as Ryzen CPUs do not have built-in graphics.

    Memory:

    Ballistix 4x8GB Sport LT DDR4-3200 SR

    This kit will allow your Ryzen processor to achieve maximum performance, thanks to its high speed DDR4-3200 rating. It also offers unbeatable compatibility thanks to its single-rank design, which is easier to drive at high speeds than dual-rank kits, especially when we're talking about a full 4-stick, 32GB setup!

    The Guru's Tip:

    To get this to run at its rated speed, enable the AMP profile in the motherboard's UEFI interface.

    Solid-State Drive:

    XPG SX8200 Pro 512GB NVMe

    A massive price war in the SSD market is leading to better values every month, and the latest star is the SX8200 Pro 512GB, by far the best drive at its pricepoint! It features TLC NAND and the ultra-fast PCIe interface, allowing it to blow past similarly-priced SATA drives!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Just note that you'll need a jeweler's type screwdriver to secure this drive to the motherboard.

    Hard Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 2TB

    For bulk media storage, we recommend you start off with WD's Blue 2TB drive. Quiet, affordable, and very reliable, it's the perfect hard drive for a home theater build.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Need more space? Just jump up to WD's 4TB drive, which offers even better value! This system can actually hold three 3.5" hard drives, meaning your total storage capacity is nearly limitless, with NAS-focused models now available in sizes up to 14TB!

    Case:

    SilverStone GD09 ATX Case

    This case is truly one-of-a-kind. It's the smallest ATX model on the market, allowing you to use powerful video cards or other expansion cards, plus up to two 3.5" hard drives and an optical drive. For cooling, it includes one pre-installed 120mm low-noise fan, with room for one more. And to add a touch of class, it has an aluminum front panel.

    The Guru's Tip:

    At just under 27 liters, the GD09 is by far the smallest ATX case on the market. Learn more about this study in compact design in our full review.

    Power Supply:

    Seasonic SSR-550FX

    Measuring just 140mm deep, this ultra-compact, modular power supply will easily fit in the case we recommend, while providing virtually silent operation thanks to its zero-RPM fan mode and excellent Gold-rated efficiency.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While you don't need 550W for this build, this is the least expensive Gold-rated, fully-modular PSU on the market, and it also happens to be the best!

    Optical Drive:

    LG 14x Blu-Ray Burner

    If you want access to both DVD and Blu-Ray physical media, you can't go wrong adding this well-priced Blu-Ray burner from LG.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To watch Blu-Ray movies, you'll actually need dedicated playback software. We recommend Cyberlink's PowerDVD 19 Ultra.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Win 10 is a great OS that keeps getting better, as Microsoft releases a major update every Fall and Spring to add features and security.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This USB 3.0 version of W10 will install in under 5 minutes!

Optional Components

    The Deluxe Home Theater Keyboard:

    Corsair K83 Wireless Keyboard

    If you'll be using your PC from the couch, you definitely need to invest in a wireless input device, and there's no better option than Corsair's K83 keyboard with integrated trackpad and joystick! Crafted from aluminum and featuring white backlighting, it looks as great as it works.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Amazingly enough, the joystick on this keyboard allows it to control just about any Smart TV on the market, making it a two-in-one device perfect for calling up the latest streaming titles!

    Wireless Card:

    TP-LINK Archer T6E AC1300

    Add blazing-fast dual-stream 802.11ac wireless networking to your HTPC with this fantastic PCIe-based card.

    The Guru's Tip:

    If your home network suffers from insufficient range or dropouts, consider upgrading your router to a mesh system, like the excellent TP-Link Deco M5.

    Sound Card:

    Creative Sound Blaster AE-7

    If you're serious about audio production and playback, you'll want an add-in sound card. The AE-7 from Sound Blaster features an astounding 127db signal-to-noise ratio, an ESS SABRE-class 9018 DAC,along with an Audio Control Module (ACM) that incorporates a built-in microphone array and mic/headphone I/O connections, plus a control know to adjust the headphone levels.

    The Guru's Tip:

    You also get a digital audio output on this card.

    TV Tuner (Optional):

    Hauppauge WinTV-quadHD PCI Express TV Tuner Card 1609 (Opt.)

    Watch and capture live TV with this high-powered 1080p TV tuner card.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This is intended for use with an antenna (assuming you have good reception). For feeds from cable boxes, see the card below.

    DVR (Optional):

    Hauppauge Colossus 2 PCIe 1080p HD-PVR (Opt.)

    Add true DVR capabilities to your HTPC with the Colossus 2, which will record content from cable TV, DVR or a satellite TV box.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that HDCP-protected content, like that from a modern cable box, will not work with this card unless you use an HDCP splitter to decode it.